Double Standards In Polity
THERE are innumerable Bollywood stars and politicians who utter obscenities, yet get worshipped by billion of Indians or liberally voted to power. Uttering the four-letter word has become the ‘in-thing’ in Indian society with the utterer gaining more and more popularity and also hailed as ‘modern’ or ‘bold’! But when Bengali actor and politician Tapas Paul, who passed away on Tuesday, had uttered that ‘rape’ threat in 2014 directed at Opposition parties a huge hue and cry reverberated from Parliament to media, and onto the streets. His career – both as a politician and an accomplished actor – had come to an abrupt end. The furore on the faux pas forced him to fade out from the public eye and live a recluse. What a punishment for a mere slip of tongue in the heat of the moment and for which he also expressed his unconditional apology! In contrast, despite calling out in public to shoot the “traitors”, Union Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur emerges boldly in Parliament within a few days accompanying Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on the occasion of the Union budget presentation. What a specimen of impeccable ‘moral standards’ whereby we should concentrate in condemning only the utterers of threat to ‘rape’; but ‘shooting’ threats should necessarily be accepted much lightly! Again, innumerable criminals walk free in this land or get bail within days despite gravest of charges! Persons accused of rape, murder and financial scandals are part of our polity as an MLA/MP, a high-profile minister or as the president of any dominating national party. But if the person’s name is Tapas Paul, he finds himself detained in prison for more than a year just on the basis of allegations. Were allegations of his involvement in the financial scandal proved in any court of law? Who had compensated him for his woes? Paul might be no more. But he would be remembered for two reasons – as a superb film star and as a tragic victim who through his plight in the concluding chapter of his life indirectly proved how hypocrisy, bias, double standard and pseudo-morality are at full play in the Indian society!
KAJAL CHATTERJEE, KOLKATA
All Religions Biased Towards Women
THIS is with reference to the letter ‘Indian society degrades women’ (NT, February 19, 2020). The incident involving girls from a Bhuj college is indeed deplorable and we all condemn it. But the letter writer has exposed his ‘Hinduphobia’ by making references to the practice observed at the Sabarimala temple and Manusmruti, a Hindu text. Discrimination against women is prevalent in all major religions but the beauty of Hinduism is that it is open to change and accept new ideas. This is unlike in Christianity, where even today a nun cannot be a chaplain or celebrate a Sunday mass or hear a confession. Nuns’ functions are restricted only to service in education and healthcare sectors. Last year, we saw Prince Harry getting married to Meghan Markle. The tradition stipulates that a bride must be led by her father. Meghan’s father could not come, and although the mother was sitting right there, nobody felt it fit to ask her to walk her daughter. So before commenting on Hindu traditions, it would be right for the letter writer to try and change the traditions in his own religion. I am sure the Church will excommunicate him if he even tries to suggest it!
SANDHYA KAMAT, PANAJI